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Starting Your Business Seminar changed to February 17

On Thursday, Feb. 17, the Chamber and the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) will conduct a Starting Your Business Seminar to be held at the Chamber. The seminar was originally slated for Feb. 24. This will be a half-day session from 8:30 a.m. to about 1 p.m. and will be chock full of information. The class is designed for people interested in opening a business, or are within their first year of business. Topics will include various avenues to market your business, setting up your financials, establishing credit, business plans and goals and local and state permitting, signage and licensing information.

Various local and regional speakers will be present to give you some guidance and answer questions — including Joe Keck, director of the award-winning Southwest SBDC. The cost of the class is $20 for Chamber members and $25 for non-members. The class will be held in the Chamber conference room and food and beverages will be provided. There are more opportunities out there for businesses and Mr. Keck has information on training grants, business start-up funds and other suggestions. This seminar is not meant to set up your business for you, but perhaps help you along in the process or re-steer you in a better direction. With all the different marketing options out there these days, these sessions may also help you identify that advertising medium which could best serve your needs for the least amount of money.

Space is limited and reservations are being taken by the Chamber. Please call 264-2360 to hold your class spot.

Tourism Conference

Right on the heels of the Starting Your Business Seminar will be a full-day Tourism Conference on Tuesday, Feb. 22. Hosted by the Town Tourism Committee (TTC), this conference is open to all businesses. There will be targeted conference sessions all day long. You can pick and choose which ones you want to attend. There will be vendor booths, a business expo and state tourism experts. There will be sessions on tourism marketing; tourism as a business; what tourists are looking for; the differences and similarities between the various community organizations such as TTC, the Chamber and Economic Development (CDC); using Trip Advisor to plan a trip and how customers use the site and even about events and how you can co-op or plan an event. Businesses will also have information on how they can take advantage of online and print advertising options.

Breakfast and lunch items will be available for sale and the day will end with a reception sponsored by the TTC, Chamber, CDC and lodging association. The whole day is offered free to the businesses, including the concluding reception. This is a perfect time to see how your business can take advantage of all the tourism opportunities out there. Leverage your marketing, access free portals like Trip Advisor and find out how you might expand your business better to the tourism industry.

More information about the event can be obtained by accessing the Chamber site at www.pagosaspringschamber.com or by contacting TTC director Jennie Green at sales@visitpagosa.com.

Last minute notification

The newly forming merchants association will be having a “Coming Together” meeting on Thursday, Feb. 3 at the Pagosa Lodge. The gathering is open to any Pagosa business. The meeting begins at 5 p.m. at the Lodge, with the Wyndham staff giving a presentation at 6:30 p.m. and Steve Vassallo, new CDC director, giving a presentation at 7 p.m. For more information about the organization or the evening’s events, contact Madeline Lyons at Wild Spirit Gallery at 264-9453.

Penguin Plunge

The Penguin Plungers are certainly waddling forward this year as they get ready to jump into the frigid San Juan River on Sunday, Feb. 20 as part of the weekend WinterFest activities. Currently there are plungers for Victim’s Assistance, the Humane Society, Pagosa Youth Center, Head Start, the Chamber, the Americana Project and we hear rumors of a few more. If you do not see your club or non-profit organization listed, perhaps a volunteer or supporter should be recruited to plunge for your organization. All funds raised by plunging for this event are donated to the non-profit of the plunger’s choice.

Plungers are required to fill out a sponsorship and release form. Youth participants must be between the ages of 15-18 and must also submit a signed parental permission slip. The cost to plunge is $25 and entitles the plungers with some cool swag, including a collectable T-shirt and soaking passes. All funds and forms must be turned in to the Chamber by Friday, Feb. 18. The Chamber will secure the funds until the contestants have plunged and then funds will be distributed to the appropriate organizations.

Plungers will line up at noon at the Visitor Center. Commemorative photos will be taken and attendance verified. Spectators are asked to view the plunge from the River Walk, not the Visitor Center parking lot. The views from the River Walk are also better for photo and video opportunities. Plungers will enter the river from the Visitor Center, float over “the wave” and then exit the river just below the wave. It will be a full body shock of freezing water with lots of participant antics and expressions. For more information about the Penguin Plunge, contact the Chamber at 264-2360.

WinterFest

While Mother Nature has not blessed us with a large amount of “white stuff” this year, most WinterFest activities will still be held. We are still planning to have the Anything Goes Downhill Sled Race on Reservoir Hill and registration forms are available at the Chamber. The Snow Sculpting contest is also on the docket and slated for the Visitor Center. Registration forms are available for this event as well. Both of these events will take place on Saturday, Feb. 19.

The Pagosa Nordic Club also has several days of events planned, from the full moon ski social on Friday evening, Feb. 18, to races on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 19 and 20. Locations have not been firmed up yet due to the weather conditions. As the event draws closer, you will be able to find the race locations on the Chamber website as well as www.pagosanordic.com.

The Rotarians are planning their WinterFest Rotary Follies with two shows on Saturday, Feb. 19 at the Liberty Theatre. The shows will be at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. The follies are always an entertaining way for the community to laugh at itself and its inner-workings. Favorite acts such as “Info Pagosa” and “the Pagosa Daily Sunshine Post Press” will be back with roasting all that is Pagosa. Tickets are on sale at the Chamber, Bank of Colorado, Pagosa Brewing, American Family Insurance and Moonlight Books for $15 per person or $25 per couple in advance or $20 individual and $30 per couple the day of the show.

The Hospice of Mercy will kick-off WinterFest with their heart-warming fundraiser, “Soup for the Soul,” on Thursday evening, Feb. 17. Restaurants and caterers from the area donate scrumptious soups, stews, desserts and breads as Mercy Medical Foundation’s Hospice of Mercy raises funds in their efforts to provide care for the homebound and terminally ill. The festivities begin at 5:30 p.m. There will be a cash bar and a silent auction featuring numerous pieces of art and live music. Tickets are available at the Chamber for $25 with a reminder that this event typically sells out, so get your tickets early.

As more WinterFest events become known or are solidified because of weather contingencies, the Chamber website will be updated. For any questions regarding WinterFest, please contact the Chamber at 264-2360.

Membership news

We have several new businesses to welcome this week. We start off with Bill Delany and Good Earth Meds, Pagosa’s first medical marijuana center. Located on Cloman Blvd., Good Earth Meds offers organic medicines, a variety of medical marijuana options and locally produced health care products. Hemp clothing, hand blown glass and consignment art are also available. You can find out more about the center by checking out their website at www.goodearthmeds.com or calling Bill at 731-3202.

Under new ownership but still in the same convenient location is DSP Pizzeria. Check out the renovated location, now serving beer and wine, in the Country Center Plaza next to Shang Hai Restaurant. They have salads and house and build your own pizzas with a huge array of toppings to choose from. You can eat in or take out by calling 731-0420. They also deliver.

Pagosa Conferences with James Walton is dedicated to assembling topical conferences here in Pagosa Springs. They focus on science, letters, humanities and the arts, bringing leaders in their field and renowned speakers to present their research and achievements in an interactive environment. Their goal is to create a world class venue where scholars, artists and visionaries can have an open forum of ideas in a stunning setting. If you are interested in the upcoming conference: “From Nineveh to Chaco: Calendars Through Time — Here and There” from June 13-15, please contact Jim at 731-5060 or email jewelerjim@gmail.com.

Bringing you the new Chamber insurance business health plan, we welcome M3 Insurance Solutions for Business. They offer an array of insurance products with an emphasis on employee benefits, property and casualty. With the new health care laws beginning to take effect and the cost of health care continuing to rise, M3 is offering Chamber members a high-deductible health savings plan with a safety net for the employer for high frequency and high cost incidents. Check out this potential significant savings for your business by contacting Frank Stichter at (970) 349-7707.

We have numerous renewals that rounded out the month of January. These renewals include Rocky Mountain Wildlife Park and Lobo Outfitters with Dick and Vimmie Ray; Pagosa Realty Rentals, Susan Angelo; Sears, owner Yvonne Giesen; The Flying Dutchman, contractor Jeff Bouwer; Main Street Antiques; High Country Lodge; Taylor Ranch; and Basin Printing and Imaging.

Our non-profit organization renewals this week include St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church, the Pagosa Springs Arts Council and Pagosa Springs Music Boosters.å

Make this a year that you challenge yourself and your business to change, improve, expand or reinvent something within your business. You can do this by taking advantage of one of the many seminars or opportunities that are offered to you every month, revising your website listing or implementing one of the many offerings from the Chamber. The Starting Your Business Seminar will take the place of the Business Bites luncheon for February, especially since there is also a tourism conference. Call the Chamber for more information about any of these sessions.